Sonu Sood, Naseeruddin Shah, Neha Dhupia, Vinay Pathak, Aarya Babbar, Swanand Kirkire, Anjana Sukhani, Amit Sadh, Mohan Agashe, Rajendra Gupta
The basic premise of ‘Maximum’ is quite strong. While one has seen films about cops v/s underworld, mainly a plot that has been patented by Ram Gopal Varma and also bears resemblance to ‘Ab Tak Chappan’ in case of ‘Maximum’ as well, the core storyline doesn’t quite cover the distance. In fact not just does the film feel scattered all over the place, even the core conflict makes it’s appearance only on and off with Shah being relegated to background for most part of the film.
What could have been an invigorating affair with the two actors taking on each other turns out to be not even half cooked as the film follows it’s own pace and tells the story mainly from Sood’s point of view.
This means that while one does empathise with Sood’s ambition (and later desperation) to hold on to the power, there is hardly any sympathy that one has for Shah who comes across as an old force with an old score to settle. In the middle of this all there are interesting characters being thrown in. So there are two senior cops fighting it out for top stakes in the department, a veteran politician [Mohan Agashe] who knows how to balance the nexus between cops, underworld, builders and ‘imaandaar’ officers, another politician [Vinay Pathak] who wants his finger in the pie as well and a loyal associate [Swanand Kirkire].
However, none of them seem to see their characters being really fleshed out and only appear on the periphery despite being integral to the film’s plot (at least on paper). Thankfully, there is Sood who manages to hold it all to some extent at least since he is present in practically every frame of the film.
This also means that there are quite a few scenes that do leave an impression with some of the dialogues [especially the one around 'either be on the top or quiet] explaining the predicament of his character well. The trouble though is the way in which his character progression is shown over the years. The enquiry sitting on him isn’t really explained well, the scene where he delivers a bag full of cash to Shah comes out of nowhere, the sequence leading to his acquittal isn’t convincing either while the series of incidents involving him back in motion after returning to charge appear a little haphazard.
Now that’s a pity because Sonu Sood does try to go the maximum distance via his confident act [he is really good in both parts of the film, first as a confident cop and later as someone who is trying to find his way back up]. However an underutilised Shah coupled with all other underplayed characters [Pathak, Agashe, Sharma] makes ‘Maximum’ a jerky outing.
In Kabir Kaushik’s debut directorial outing ‘Seher’, there was a dialogue mouthed by Suhasini Mulay who explained the meaning of ‘Varjasv’ to her cop son [Arshad Warsi]. It means ‘total power’ and Kaushik has basically picked up not just the word but even the crux of the entire film to make ‘Maximum’ [which again means 'maximum power' in the context of the film]. Nothing wrong with that since over the years, ‘Seher’ has been credited as one of the most underrated cop films to have come out of Bollywood. Hence one can well understand Kaushik’s desire to live the dream all over again.
Sadly though, the end result doesn’t quite match the very strong platform that this Sonu Sood-Naseeruddin Shah film carried.